Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is described by Sabato Sagaria as one of the most sought after grapes from wine lovers and wine makers around the world. The chances are that if you ask a winemaker what they love to drink, or what wine they love to make, they’ll say Pinot Noir. 

Pinot Noir Origins

Originally grown in Burgundy, France, Pinot Noir grapes are now found growing throughout the rest of France and around Europe; in Germany it’s known as Spätburgunder or Blauburgunder, and in Austria, Klevner. Pinot Noir is now also very popular within Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, among others.

Today, Burgundy holds the place for the most planted vines of Pinot Noir, and California comes in second. 

The name comes from its visual aspects; ‘pinot’ meaning pine cone relating to the tight bunches that the grapes grow in, distributing themselves in such a way as to look like a pine cone; and ‘noir’ meaning black to reflect their distinctive color. 

How is Pinot Noir Grown?

Pinot Noir grapes have a very thin skin, leading to the light-bodied and low tannic impact of the wines they produce. Their thin skins are contributed to by the climates that they grow in, often cool climates where they can be subject to frost and hail, leading to a beating of the grapes. Thin skinned grapes also leads to early ripening, subject to damage from weather at particular times. Harsh conditions and the delicate nature of the grapes means that an entire crop can be devastated in an instant, with sometimes irreparable damage. 

While thriving in the cool climates they’ve grown in, global warming has done them a favor by aiding in their growth, particularly in places like the Sonoma Coast, Santa Barbara and Carneros within California, as there’s a warmth during the day, and when the winds come in at night the grapes are cooled down which helps to preserve the freshness and acidity. The acidity levels of Pinot Noir is imperative, as it helps their wines to age.

Pinot Noir Wine

Pinot Noir creates a juice that is so transparent in color it is unparalleled to any of the other red grape varieties. The wines made throughout the world can be so different depending on where it’s been grown and the nature of the terroir, meaning that even two vineyards within the same village can present an incredibly different wine to each other. 

Burgundy, within France uses Pinot Noir grapes to create its beautiful Red Burgundy wines. They’re rated from entry level, ‘Bourgogne’, to Premiere Cru, to Grand Cru. However, these ratings come from the vineyards where they’re grown and not necessarily from those that are making the wines. 

We often think of still wines when we think of Pinot Noir, but it’s actually one of the three main grapes used in making Champagne. Helping to create the body and structure of the blend, Pinot Noir has its place alongside Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. 

Watch the segment from SOMM TV - Sommelier’s Notebook to go through Sabato’s verdict of Pinot Noir. 

Written by Steve Johnson-Stott

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